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Goodbye Windscribe 2017-09-22


Sometimes I use SnooNet. It is an IRC network that is supposed to be a chat service specifically for Reddit users to chat about Reddit-specific stuff. There is lots of non-Reddit related stuff there, but that obviously doesn't bother anybody. The thing is, Snoonet has some affiliation with PIA, a VPN provider. The idea is that IRC is generally kind of user-unfriendly, it requires learning a bunch of very specific stuff to use it, and as a result the people using IRC are generally more geek-like. PIA probably figures the "more geek-like" people are more likely to be people who use VPNs. So this kind of gives PIA mainline access to their target market. In fact, a while back there were global announcements being made on SnooNet about the affiliation, that even included a free one year subscription to a PIA VPN. I collected a coupon code, but gave it away instead of using it.

Fast forward a few months, and I was feeling like maybe I should have tried the free VPN. Then a friend sent me a link to an article about a free (60GB per month) VPN from a company called Windscribe. I decided to give it a shot. The bad news is that the article linked off to another article, which linked off to an affiliate link, which required me to download some software which would in turn get me the Windscribe software. Yes, it really was that ridiculous, and because of complications I ended up with only a 2GB per month account. I thought it sucked that I had to install this junkware to get less than what was being advertised, and I sent Windscribe a nastygram saying so. They replied by saying they upgraded my account to 60GB per month and that I could uninstall all the junk and just use their client, and finally that they would reconsider their affiliate link program. This sounded kind of cool, so I went ahead and tried it out. The client software even runs on Windows XP without any stupid dependencies like .NET or VS runtimes.

Then the spam started. I got a stupid email with a hip photo of Wil Wheaton screaming at me to "just do it" and catchy little phrases that made it sound like the email had been written by some hip teenager. I was disappointed that they signed me up for their mailing list without even telling me they were signing me up, let alone give me an opportunity to opt out. So I clicked on the unsubscribe link and it took me to a web page that said I COULD opt out of their bullshit marketing emails, but that I would be automagically cut back to a 2GB per month account again. Now that, is lame. You have to submit to receiving their spams if you want to continue to get what you signed up for. I wasn't happy about it, but I decided to just create a rule that would silently drop the emails so I wouldn't see them.

desktopapp2 Windscribe client application.

Because of some recent changes to my email one of their spams arrived in my mailbox last night with the subject "Are you good at math? It actually doesn't matter". It goes on to say that I can earn myself a FREE Pro account (which I assume is unlimited and perhaps spam free) by opening a web page in my browser and keeping it open. It goes on to explain that this web page will use my [mostly unused] processor cycles to solve complex math puzzles. Now they conveniently don't bother to mention what exactly the CPU cycles are being used for. They could be using the processing power to cure cancer. Or maybe to calculate the chances of North Korea bombing a guy that looks like an orange with a rat on his head. Or perhaps they're rendering an enormous virtual world for future humans to live in. Or... maybe they're just using their customer base to mine bitcoins (also known as shitcoins).

The shitcoins answer seems like the most likely doesn't it? Funny how they wouldn't bother to explain what their benefit is eh? Well, since I didn't really find a VPN very useful and since Windscribe is clearly willing to dabble in some arguably shady bullshit, I guess I'll just block their spam and forget about the account. That just ain't a business model I am comfortable supporting. :-(

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